Saturday 21 July 2007

The Situation of Rohingya in Thailand

Source from Kaladan Press,  20 July 2007

At first I would like to express my Salam and sincere thanks to all participants including Br. Nurul Islam, Director of National Reconciliation Program (NRP) and Euro- Burma Office Mr. Ham Yawnghwe, the respected Rohingya elder Mr. Abul Fayas and Honourable Professor Surat for organizing this workshop. I feel honoured today  for this opportunity to attend this meeting and make my presentation on the situation ofRohingya living in Thailand.
Some of the distinguished speakers have already spoken on the situation ofRohingya people in many countries of the world. Due to human rights violations against them bulk of the Rohingyas have to leave their homeland to save their lives. The situation has been serious after the enactment of so called Burma Citizenship law in 1982 by dictator Ne Win making the Rohingya stateless in their historical homeland. There are about 10 to 15,000 Rohingyas living in Thailand without any kind of legal status with uncertain future.
Generally their situation is as follows:
  1. There  are  some  Rohingyas  in  the  refugee  camp  near  Thai  Burma border  in Measod area. Their condition is relatively better in terms of security.
  2. Some of the Rohingyas are living by trading particularly in Maesod town, Bangkok and Ranong.
  3. A few Rohingyas are working as daily labourers  in Bangkok and other big cities. Of them some are working in the factory as security guards.
  4. A small number of them are surviving by selling flowers on the road sites of the big cities or at the traffic signal points which is usually very dangerous.
  5. A small number of our people are doing street vendors. The security agencies seldom arrest and deport them. Recently the Royal Thai Police had handed over a group of such people to the SPDC forces.
  6. There are still some people who are working as daily labourers in fisheries, particularly in Ranong.
Some of the problems being faced by the Rohingyas in Thailand
They face the arrests and deportation of the Thai police. Sometimes, they face humiliation from the local people. Some Thai people think that, being people from Burma, we are their historical enemy. They used to point out the times of Burmese king Boying Nong (Boren Nong) and Along Paya who had once occupied their country (Thailand). Having no documents, we are unable to travel within Thailand and to send our children to Thai schools even for basic education. These problems need to be addressed as early as possible.
In this horrific situation we have established the Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand (BRAT) to alleviate the sufferings of Rohingya in Thailand. Amidst various difficulties BRAT is carrying on its activities. BRAT maintains keep in touch with many organizations and individuals, including Thai National Human Rights Commission. With the help of TNHRC, we could present and discuss our problems with Thai Interior Ministry, UNHCR, Law Faculty of Thammasart University and many others –
For your information the Aims and Objects of the BRAT are:
  1. To create mutual understanding with Thai societies and other ethnic groups from Burma.
  2. To establish the  Rohingya's  rights  in their homeland and to work for the protection of those who are taking refuge in foreign countries like Thailand.
  3. To strengthen the national reconciliation process among all the peoples of Burma, including those in Arakan.
  4. To create an effective network among the Rohingya community to help in peaceful co-existence program.
  5. To strengthen Burma's democracy movement to establish peace, justice, and equality in the country.
BRAT'S weakness:
  1. Lack of educated people in the organization.
  2. Financial problem to run the network.
  3. Lack of documents to travel across Thailand to carry on the activities.
Again I draw your attention to redress our plights, particularly to the problem of legal status for our temporary stay in Thailand, and for our children's education. We are also soliciting your help and cooperation in our activities
Thank you very much.
This paper was submitted at First Rohingya Consultation: Working together to find a solution, on 2-3 August 2006, Sigha Dum Conference Room, Faculty of Political science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, Organized by Centre for Social Development, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, In cooperation with the National Reconciliation Programme (NRP).